The Winnipeg Jets this coming weekend will enter their eighth draft since their flight north from Atlanta. The club has just come off their most successful NHL season ever, a season that was built largely on the concept of “draft and develop” which has had it’s critics over the years but has turned out to be very fruitful and one where you can see positive results from pretty much every draft the Jets have had.
This week leading up to the draft, we’ll look back at the first seven drafts the Jets have taken part in and look back at the hits (quite a few), the misses (every team has ’em) and the fates-yet-to-be-determined.
The 2012 draft featured a couple of picks that have turned into franchise type building blocks who like Mark Scheifele the year before should be wearing Winnipeg colors for quite some time even if there were moments of doubt that they had a future with the team.
1st round pick – 9th overall: Jacob Trouba (D)
2012 was the year of defense as eight of the first ten picks in the draft were defensemen and it can be argued the Jets snagged the best one of the group (fans of Morgan Rielly and Hampus Lindholm may disagree)
It hasn’t been the easiest road for Trouba and his time with the Jets. Back in September 2016 when Trouba and the Jets were not able to come to an agreement on a contract, Jacob and his agent requested a trade out of Winnipeg that had a lot more to do with his useage on the team (and while not ever spoken verbally, perhaps his pairing with Mark Stuart that dragged his numbers both offensively and defensively down) than it had to do with his opinion of the city of Winnipeg or a desire to play in the US.
Two months later, once he signed a two year deal, he pulled back that trade request and even more recently has been linked to reports that he would like to stay.
Source tells me #NHLJets Jacob Trouba has informed his agent he wants to remain a Jet & sign long term. Agent Kurt Overhardt has declined to comment. Won't play out till this summer & does not mean a deal will get done but have been told the desire & wish is to stay in #Winnipeg
— Jim Toth (@JimTothSports) May 15, 2018
It’s amazing what winning – not to mention playing on his proper side on the right hand – does for one’s opinion. It doesn’t hurt at all that he’s had a strong partner such as Josh Morrissey and that while they haven’t been quite given number one pairing minutes, that could happen as early as next season.
We predicted a few days ago that the Jets could possibly lock down Trouba to a six year, six million dollar deal and given how Trouba has improved every season, that could end up quite the bargain.
2nd round pick – 39th overall: Lukas Sutter (C)
3rd round pick – 70th overall: Scott Kosmachuk (RW)
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) June 23, 2012
Both Lukas Sutter and Scott Kosmachuk had all kinds of potential behind them and they were two players that observers thought for sure the Jets had made shrewd picks with.
Scott Kosmachuk goes to Jets. Hard working forward who can fill a depth role at the next level. Type of player you win games with.
— Sean Lafortune (@SeanLafortune) June 23, 2012
— Matt Lee (@mattlee_61) June 23, 2012
What wasn’t there to love about the picks? Sutter had obviously the family name and hockey bloodlines but his results in the WHL didn’t suggest that he should have been a second round pick and the Jets could have possibly been been taken in with the hype behind the name. Kosmachuk had two 100+ point seasons with the Guelph Storm of the OHL and looked like a bit of a steal for the Jets in the third round.
And yet neither player panned out.
Sutter battled injuries and also a strange decline in his play within the junior ranks playing in Saskatoon. His point production and playing time actually decreased in the first season after his draft. He was traded to Red Deer the next season, but a shoulder injury ended his 2013-14 junior season and also likely scared the Jets away from giving him an entry level contract. Lukas re-enetered the 2014 NHL draft where the Islanders picked him up in the seventh round.
Kosmachuk did get an ELC and saw a couple of seasons in Winnipeg’s AHL system and posted ok numbers as a middle six forward – 33 goals and 64 points in 137 games played with the Ice Caps and Moose – but the Jets didn’t give him a qualifying offer after the 2016-17 season and last summer signed a contract with the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Two players who looked like very strong picks and yet the Jets let them both walk away for nothing.
5th round pick – 130th overall: Connor Hellebuyck (G)
Much like Jacob Trouba, Connor Hellebuyck’s history since being drafted in the fifth round of 2012 has been a bit of a roller coaster ride and like Truoba there was doubt that Hellebuyck had a future with the Jets.
After one season in the AHL with the Ice Caps, Hellebuyck was called up to the main roster in the 2015-16 season as an injury replacement for Ondrej Pavelec and played exceptionally well to the surprise of many. She he was tabbed as the Jets goalie of the future, but to see 23 year old netminder do as well as he did was an eye opener for many fans, media and the Jets themselves. So much so that the following season the Jets decided to go with a tandem of Hellebuyck and fellow young goalie Michael Hutchinson while jettisoning Pavelec and his large contract to the AHL.
The experiment didn’t go as well as many had hoped and Hellebuyck clearly struggled at times going from a .918 save percentage in his rookie season to a .907 save percentage the year after and facing doubts that he could live up to the billing.
The summer of 2017 saw the Jets sign Steve Mason as a possible new number one goalie, but it also saw Hellebuyck switch up his off-season program and focus on areas on his game that he knew needed to improve.
Did he ever. .924 save percentage, a record for most wins in a regular season by an American born goalie and a Vezina trophy nomination.
And just in time for a new contract that will see him get a major raise. Not bad for a fifth round pick.
6th round pick – 160th overall: Ryan Olsen (C)
The Jets had high hopes for Ryan Olsen, but the former Kelowna Rocket was a disappointment in three seasons with the Ice Caps / Moose and was deemed easily expendable by the Jets and decided not to give him a qualifying offer and let him become a free agent. Recently Olsen was part of the ECHL Kelly Cup winning Colorado Eagles, but he spends his free time assaulting people trying to stop him from hitting on women.
7th round pick – 190th overall: Jamie Phillips (G)
Jamie Phillips has been a much better story and has been a part of the Jets organization the last two seasons, although he’s been in a log jam of good, young promising goaltenders like Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson.
It was thought this season that he’d spend his time in the ECHL to get starts and help his development, but with the injuries the Jets dealt with in goal this season, he was pressed into AHL action posting a 6-7-1 record with a .912 save percentage and a 2.76 GAA. He’s a restricted free agent this summer and there is a good chance the Jets may not submit a qualifying offer to him which would make him a free agent.
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